La vie de bohème

Finland, France, Germany, Sweden


Rodolfo, a refugee from Albania and a great painter; Marcel, a great French poet; and Schaunard, a great Irish composer, become acquainted by chance while chasing each on the same battlefield, by every imaginable means, a beast called the five—franc coin. They cannot take more than ten steps on the Boulevards without meeting an acquaintance, or thirty steps — whatever the place — without encountering a creditor. This melancholy comedy — which, incidentally, is actually a melodrama — teils of their life, especially in relation to Mimi and Musette, two country belles lost in the maelstrom of the big city, and to more commonplace characters, such as the landlord and immigration officers. Their daily subsistence calls for brilliant virtuosity; these men could get Harpagon to lend them money, and would find champignons on the raft of the Medusa. When necessary, they can adhere to abstinence as well as any hermit, but if even so much as a pittance come to hand, they will at once be seen driving the most expensive steeds of caprice, drinking the best and the oldest, with never enough windows from which to throw money into the street. A special language is spoken in the film, borrowed from the prattle in artists' studios, the backstage argot of the theater and newspaper editorial offices. Choice words of all styles can be encountered in this strange dialect; turns from Revelations appear next to plain gibberish, the vulgarity of rustic speech combines with skilful sentence periods that might have been turned on Cyrano's lathe. The vocabulary of the bohemians is the hell of old rhetoric and the paradise of linguistic reformation, or vice versa. The plot of the film is so complicated that a committee should be appointed to disentangle it. Potential female viewers are recommended to supply themselves with handkerchiefs, for the ending of the film may be the saddest since "Waterloo Bridge".

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki

Produced by: Aki Kaurismäki

Cinematography: Timo Salminen

Editing: Veikko Aaltonen

Cast: André Wilms, Matti Pellonpäa, Evelyne Didi

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actor 1992
  • Best Supporting Actor 1992
  • Best Supporting Actress 1992
  • European Film 1992